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South African Thoroughbreds, Indian Trainers, Mauritian Hosts: Heady Concoction Global Equestrian Culture

The MTC chairman with his team of extremely proactive stewards and committee members play the perfect hosts in the private boxes oozing of oomph overlooking the winning post!

Chaiti Narula | CNN-News18

Updated:December 6, 2017, 1:47 PM IST
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South African Thoroughbreds, Indian Trainers, Mauritian Hosts: Heady Concoction Global Equestrian Culture
The Mauritius turf club brought jockeys down from around the world for the grand finale marking an end to the year’s horse racing calendar.
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The Mauritius Turf Club played host to Air Mauritius and Attitude International Jockeys’ weekend.

The Mauritius turf club brought jockeys down from around the world for the grand finale marking an end to the year’s horse racing calendar. The racing meet is one of the bigger ones in that part of the world and hosts guests from all across the country who are into this sport of kings.

This grand season finale marks the end of a power packed racing season in a racing mad island of Mauritius.

All eyes of the international racing fraternity in Mauritius as Pierre Charles Boudot of France, M Barzalona of France, Chadwick from Hongkong, former apprentice champion Zackey of SA and Imran Chisty of india amongst many other from various parts of the world will partner the South African thoroughbreds.

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It was fascinating to note how Maxime Guyon bagged a hat trick win on day 1 of the racing meet. Indian sensation Imran Chisty moved level with Steven Arnold at the top of the Jockeys’ standings after the previous weekend's meeting. Indian jockey Imran Chisty now levels the championship in a tie for 2017 and has now emerged into a sporting celebrity on the island country!

The MTC chairman with his team of extremely proactive stewards and committee members play the perfect hosts in the private boxes oozing of oomph overlooking the winning post!

MTC president Mukesh Balgobin and Naresh Gujadhar who’s from the first Indian family of horse racing in Mauritius seem to have taken on the task of promoting the crowd pulling sport quite efficiently in Mauritius as the stands were packed to the rafters. So much so that the other sports like soccer don’t even come close to the popularity of racing in Mauritius. An extremely odds friendly totalisator and book makers ring complete the racing ambience. I say that as I keenly observed favourites don’t often win here! It’s actually the jockeys’ ability more that the pedigree or horses temperament that decides the fate of the race given the nature of the grass track. The dirt track runs inside alongside the grass track.

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The club as any other is a big boys club where the elitist like to be found over the weekend with their South African bred thoroughbreds. Women from world over surprisingly take their attire, hats, fascinators and fedoras quite seriously adding the right colourful dash to the lush green Champs de mars course.

The course is full off French, Mauritian and Indian trainers. Indian, French and Mauritian owners take great pride in owning these South African thoroughbreds who are mainly bred to be sprinters and milers as the race track measures 1295 metres.

Founded 1812, the racetrack is the oldest in Southern Hemisphere and third oldest in the world.

I’ve raced quite a bit around the world but the warmth and hospitality of the MTC is not intimidating but extremely welcoming to horse racing enthusiasts from different parts of the world. It comes quite close to the Singapore Turf club at Kranji that has a similar culture in terms of hospitality at the turf!

For an island country they seem to take their racing very seriously as they’re quite strict about the dress code and follow the rule book quite well of the international racing protocols.

Champs de Mars is almost a fairy tale like racecourse with a lot of soul and full of Indian and French officials! = The size is just perfect to hear the echo of the clucking of hooves! Very different from the intimidating grandeur of Longchamp or Epsom Downs or even the Mahalakshmi racecourse in Mumbai.

When in Mauritius, a must do experience is a weekend at the races.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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